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Who Is Kyle Orton Really As A Quarterback?

Over the past months, there have been very heated debates about quarterbacks here in the community. Kevin Kolb provokes the most passion for and against. The vocal part of the community is more against him, but looking at the polls show that Cardinals fans are mostly in favor of bringing him in. 

Of course, he is not the only quarterback we have considered. Probably considered the next favorite name in the mix is Kyle Orton, but he also causes a lot of debate. 

One of the knocks on Orton the fact that he has not led a team to the playoffs. That is a pretty valid point. But let us look at his overall record as a starter -- he is 32-30, including a terrible 3-10 record in 2010. That is not bad. 

We should erase 2010 because that Denver Broncos team was terrible. They had no running game and no defense of any sort. Heck, our Cardinals put up a 43 spot on them. Tim Hightower looked like an All-Pro. The kicker scored a touchdown.

Somehow, he seems to be overlooked regularly by his teams. This can definitely be a red flag. But look at the situations.

In Chicago, he was a very immature young man whose partying could even put Matt Leinart to shame. Check out the photos that are in the first couple of row in Google Images for "Kyle Orton party".

The Bears were reluctant at the start to commit to him because they had a first round QB in Rex Grossman. He eventually won the starting job outright, but the team saw the opportunity to get a Pro Bowl quarterback in Jay Cutler, they did it (who wouldn't?).

His numbers in Chicago were not great, but he also was a very young QB and he had very little in the way of offensive weapons.

In his fifth and sixth seasons, in Denver, he flourished as a player. His QB rating were respectively 86.8 and 87.5. He led his team to a 6-0 start in 2009, but he got hurt and the team struggled late as the San Diego Chargers made their typical late-season run to the postseason. 

Could his rise be related to the Josh McDaniels offensive system? Sure. But Tom Brady also benefited from it as well. He also had better offensive weapons in Denver than in Chicago. 

As for the off-the-field decisions? I got this info from one of the writers on Mile High Report, the SB Nation Broncos blog:

He has settled down Jess. He got married to a beautiful gal and doesn't party like he used to. He is a pretty laid back guy, drives a Prius even.

A pro football player driving a Pruis? Crazy. He grew up and now plays at a fairly high level. For those who think he is not a fit in Arizona, this is his Scouts, Inc. scouting report:

Orton has a strong arm and can make all the throws. He can fit the ball into tight windows or toss it deep with accuracy. He is more of a pocket passer who has a three-quarter release and can get the ball out relatively quickly. Orton has lots of raw talent. He isn't fleet-of-foot, but has enough foot agility and quickness to move and avoid pressure to make plays downfield. He appears to have matured reading coverages better and taking what the defense gives him rather than forcing the ball when under pressure.

If you think about it, what type of quarterback does Ken Whisenhunt like? Orton fits the bill. He's young enough at 28 years old. The talent is there. He has the tools to be a long-term solution at the position. 

Now, I prefer Kevin Kolb. I see him as a Matt Hasselbeck type quarterback as a starting point, with a ceiling that goes a bit higher. But if Orton ends up being the choice of the Cardinals, I would not feel cheated at all. He is a very close second in my book.

Orton is reportedly on the way out of Denver. This has much less to do with Orton's play as it is having invested in Tim Tebow. Teams feel they must commit to their young, expensive players. But other reports say it will be difficult to pry him away. It is understandable.

Like Kolb, there are some question marks. Kolb's is his inexperience. Orton's is his leadership makeup. Both are fair concerns.

But after I have looked back at Orton's situation, I see a guy who was simply a victim of circumstance. No one can doubt that Jay Cutler is the more talented QB between the two. Chicago had the opportunity to get a more talented guy and did. Denver is likely committing to Tebow because of his draft status and potential.

I will fault no one for rating or preferring Orton over Kolb. But I believe that it is irresponsible to simply dismiss Orton for his lack of playoff appearances. Another type of player you could compare him to is Matt Schaub. He hasn't been to the playoffs, but not many doubt his talents. In fact, most of us would likely give our left nut if the Cardinals could magically acquire him for the long-term.

Kolb or Orton? Who knows? But don't let Orton's circumstances be the reason why you are down on him.